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PGA Tour To End COVID Testing For Both Vaccinated & Non-Vaccinated Players
The picture you see above is of John Rahm, a professional golfer on the PGA tour being carted off the golf course after tournament officials told him he had COVID. He was healthy and had no symptoms, yet was forced to withdraw from the tournament. He was told in front of the camera's, and a big scene was made out of the event. You would think something like that, especially when you are a big time sports figure, would be done behind closed doors with some privacy.
Earlier on in June a spokesperson for the PGA Tour said that more than 50 percent of players on the PGA tour have been vaccinated. Although it seems that the majority of players on the tour will be fully vaccinated judging by this statement, it does leave a fairly large minority who won't be, and that's something we're seeing across the globe as COVID vaccine hesitancy remains high for multiple reasons.
We are pleased to announce, after consultation with PGA Tour medical advisors, that due to the high rate of vaccination among all constituents on the PGA Tour, as well as other positively trending factors across the country, testing for COVID-19 will no longer be required as a condition of competition beginning with the 3M Open. - PGA tour Senior VP Tyler Dennis
The tour recently announced that the testing of players every week will stop starting in July for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. This was an unexpected announcement given the fact that, at least it seems in some countries, vaccinated individuals will enjoy previous rights and freedoms that everyone did before the pandemic. Travelling without need to quarantine and possibly in the future not having to be tested could be a few of those privileges. Others may include attending concerts, sporting events, or perhaps even keeping their job depending on whether or not their employer deems it to be mandatory, if that's even legally possible. We will see what happens.
Luckily for professional golfers, regardless of their vaccination status they won't have to worry about testing positive for COVID, especially if they're not sick. This is the appropriate move by the PGA tour, who is represented by their players and it's a move that the players themselves may have had a say in. It's important because PCR tests are not designed nor are they appropriate for identifying infectious people. A number of scientists have been emphasizing this since the beginning of the pandemic. More recently, a letter to the editor published in the Journal of infection explain why more than half of al "positive" PCR tests are likely to have been people who are not infectious, otherwise known as "false positives."
This is why the Swedish Public Health agency has a notice on their website explaining how and why polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are not useful for determining if someone is infected with COVID or if someone can transmit it to others, and it's better to use someone who is actually showing symptoms as a judgement call of whether or not they could be infected or free from infection.
PCR tests using a high cycle threshold are extremely sensitive. An article published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that among positive PCR samples with a cycle count over 35, only 3 percent of the samples showed viral replication. This can be interpreted as, if someone tests positive via PCR when a Ct of 35 or higher is used, the probability that said person is actually infected is less than 3%, and the probability that said result is a false positive is 97 percent. This begs the question, why has Manitoba, Canada, for example, using cycle thresholds of up to 45 to identify "positive" people?
When it comes to golf, the fact that spread occurring in an outdoor setting is highly unlikely could have been a factor, but it's also important to mention that asymptomatic spread within one's own household is also considerably rare. It really makes you wonder what's going on here, doesn't it?